After years in the barbering industry, Eddie Rivera, barber and owner of New Style Hair Studio in Meriden, Connecticut, noticed an area in the field that was desperately in need of more focused attention: how to better support customers that had special needs, including both children and adults.
By his inherent skill, calming nature, and ability to work well with kids, his clientele already comprised of many children that were on the Autism Spectrum. Parents would share their difficult, sometimes heart wrenching stories with him, about how difficult it was to obtain a haircut for their child that had special needs. These parents often encountered barbers that would become frustrated, or were simply unable to complete the haircut, due to sensory difficulties and behaviors that the child may have been displaying. Many just did not have the knowledge of how to accommodate the specific needs that the child had. This, of course, is not something that is covered in cosmetology or barbering school. Until now.
Eddie wanted to further develop his knowledge of how to work best with those that have special needs. He enrolled in an online, 16-hour course that gave him a general overview of Autism: how it affects individuals, how to support those with Autism around him, the challenges that people with Autism face. This course helped to launch the idea of something that would pioneer such an important need in the barbering industry: the New Style Barbering Certification for Servicing Individuals with Special Needs.
He teamed up with Kate Stanley, a licensed clinical social worker with over 10 years of experience in the public school system working with children that have special needs, to create this curriculum. It is designed to be facilitated to both students that are working towards their barbering certification, embedded right within their schools curriculum, or as a 1-day course for experienced barbers. All participants will be expected to complete and pass at least 80% of a 30-question assessment at the conclusion of the course, and will then receive a certificate of completion to be displayed near their barbering station.
Through education and advocacy, Eddie’s goal is to one day make this topic area a required educational component of all cosmetology and barbering licenses.